The first two examples are man-made. Today, I took a section of dead grass (it had been on its death bed ever since I moved in, but the drought last summer finally killed it off, along with a large section around it) and started its rehabilitation, according to organic rehabilitation guidelines.
First, I disturbed the soil slightly with a garden fork (mostly by pitching and levering, to open it up but keep the soil structure intact). Next went a double layer of newspaper-like paper (it was actually brown packaging paper that is sometimes used in parcels, instead of polystyrene peanuts), followed by a layer of all of the useable compost (and some of the unusable -- it's not a clearcut business) from my composter.
On top of that went a couple of bags of topsoil, followed by a bag of sheep manure, all mixed together. Finally, a layer of garden waste that has been slowly composting over the last year or so in the sandy area where the above-ground swimming pool (that came with the house, and that I got rid of) used to be. This will both discourage weeds, provide shelter for the useful insects, and provide biological matter for the insects to get going on.
I will have to leave this for at least a year before I think of doing anything with what's underneath. But, that's the price of not using chemicals. Once this process is done, it will hopefully become productive soil in which I will not grow grass.
I did this today because we are expecting a load of rain this afternoon, and compost is greatly accelerated by rain. The idea is to bring worms into the area to start digesting this stuff and turning it into humus (not hummus!). It will save me from having to waste water giving it a deep watering, which I'd probably have to do with chlorinated tap water.
Here are some pictures of the finished section:
The following one is a boring one. The apple tree I planted last year has returned to bud. I neglected to put some supports in for this tree, which I'll probably have to do now to try and coax it straight, by the look of it. Still, I don't expect this tree to produce fruit for another couple of years, just because it's so young.
Below is the rhubarb grown from a rootball that my Dad gave me a few weeks ago. When I planted it, I was worried that it wouldn't do well because most of the soil fell away from the roots when I removed it from the pot. But, I hoped that by mixing the imported and native soils, and by planting it and watering at the same time -- removing air bubbles and allowing the soil to adhere to the roots -- that it would be OK. It looks fine now, because it was well below the top of the black pot when I planted it.
Behind the rhubarb are the blackberries (they seemed to go well together in my mind, for some reason). These blackberry bushes are like weeds. There is never any doubt that they will proliferate and, in fact, I have seen them pop up many feet away from the main plant. I have already cut them back once this year.
Finally, we have the thyme seedlings starting to poke through. I started these about two weeks ago in my portable greenhouse outside. They are planted in half of a toilet roll tube -- these can be planted directly into the ground because they will biodegrade or split open quite readily when exposed to moisture (some of them have split under the duress of light watering... but most of them are just about holding together). The germination time for these seeds was stated as 7-21 days, so we are on target.